The Flower

George Herbert - 1593-1633
How fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean
Are Thy returns! ev’n as the flow’rs in Spring,
    	To which, besides their own demean
The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring;
                	   Grief melts away
         	           Like snow in May,
    	As if there were no such cold thing.
 
    	Who would have thought my shrivel’d heart
Could have recover’d greennesse? It was gone
    	Quite under ground; as flow’rs depart
To see their mother-root, when they have blown,
                	Where they together
                	All the hard weather,
    	Dead to the world, keep house unknown.
 
    	These are Thy wonders, Lord of power,
Killing and quickning, bringing down to Hell
    	And up to Heaven in an houre;
Making a chiming of a passing-bell.
                	We say amisse
                	This or that is;
    	Thy word is all, if we could spell.
 
    	O that I once past changing were,
Fast in Thy Paradise, where no flower can wither;
 	   Many a Spring I shoot up fair,
Offring at Heav’n, growing and groning thither,
                	Nor doth my flower
                	Want a Spring-showre,
    	My sinnes and I joyning together.
 
    	But while I grow in a straight line,
Still upwards bent, as if Heav’n were mine own,
    	Thy anger comes, and I decline:
What frost to that? what pole is not the zone
                	Where all things burn,
                	When Thou dost turn,
    	And the least frown of Thine is shown?
 
    	And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
    	I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing: O, my onely Light,
                	It cannot be
                	That I am he
    	On whom Thy tempests fell all night.
 
    	These are Thy wonders, Lord of love,
To make us see we are but flow’rs that glide;
    	Which when we once can find and prove,
Thou hast a garden for us where to bide.
                	Who would be more,
               	Swelling through store,
    	Forfeit their Paradise by their pride.

More by George Herbert

The Collar

I struck the board, and cry'd, No more.
                 I will abroad.
     What? shall I ever sigh and pine?
My lines and life are free; free as the rode,
     Loose as the winde, as large as store.
        Shall I be still in suit?
     Have I no harvest but a thorn
     To let me bloud, and not restore
     What I have lost with cordiall fruit?
                  Sure there was wine
Before my sighs did drie it: there was corn
        Before my tears did drown it.
     Is the yeare onely lost to me?
        Have I no bayes to crown it?
No flowers, no garlands gay? all blasted?
                  All wasted?
     Not so, my heart: but there is fruit,
                  And thou hast hands.
     Recover all thy sigh-blown age
On double pleasures: leave thy cold dispute
Of what is fit and not. Forsake thy cage,
                  Thy rope of sands,
Which pettie thoughts have made, and made to thee
     Good cable, to enforce and draw,
                  And be thy law,
     While thou didst wink and wouldst not see.
                  Away; take heed:
                  I will abroad.
Call in thy deaths head there: tie up thy fears.
                  He that forbears
        To suit and serve his need,
                  Deserves his load.
But as I rav'd and grew more fierce and wilde
                  At every word,
Me thoughts I heard one calling, Child!
                  And I reply'd, My Lord.

Love (III)

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
	Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
	From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
	If I lacked anything.

"A guest," I answered, "worthy to be here":
	Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
	I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
	"Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
	Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
	"My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
	So I did sit and eat.

The World

Love built a stately house, where Fortune came,
And spinning fancies, she was heard to say
That her fine cobwebs did support the frame,
Whereas they were supported by the same;
But Wisdom quickly swept them all away.

The Pleasure came, who, liking not the fashion,
Began to make balconies, terraces,
Till she had weakened all by alteration;
But reverend laws, and many a proclomation
Reforméd all at length with menaces.

Then entered Sin, and with that sycamore
Whose leaves first sheltered man from drought and dew,
Working and winding slily evermore,
The inward walls and summers cleft and tore;
But Grace shored these, and cut that as it grew.

Then Sin combined with death in a firm band,
To raze the building to the very floor;
Which they effected,--none could them withstand;
But Love and Grace took Glory by the hand,
And built a braver palace than before.

Related Poems

The Sun Rising

        Busy old fool, unruly Sun, 
        Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us? 
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run? 
        Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide 
        Late school-boys and sour prentices, 
    Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride, 
    Call country ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime, 
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time. 

        Thy beams so reverend, and strong 
        Why shouldst thou think? 
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink, 
But that I would not lose her sight so long. 
        If her eyes have not blinded thine, 
        Look, and to-morrow late tell me, 
    Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine 
    Be where thou left'st them, or lie here with me. 
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday, 
And thou shalt hear, "All here in one bed lay." 

        She's all states, and all princes I;
        Nothing else is; 
Princes do but play us; compared to this, 
All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy. 
        Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we, 
        In that the world's contracted thus; 
    Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be 
    To warm the world, that's done in warming us. 
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere; 
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.